Things to do in Bogota, Colombia
Bogota is one of the largest cities in South America and the capital of Colombia. It’s a megacity of epic proportions, sprawling out into endless suburbs with gritty streets and glass skyscrapers mixed in with pretty colonial buildings.
It may have more attractive parts than others, but one thing is for sure, you’ll always find something to marvel at in Bogota.
The city is usually the starting point of any Colombia itinerary (especially as most people fly into Bogota), so don’t skip it; enjoy all the top things to do instead!
1. Iconic Plaza Bolivar
The heart of the historic center of Bogota is the Plaza Bolivar, surrounded by some of the most important buildings in the city, like the cathedral and the mayor’s office. Most important of all is the Simon Bolivar statue that sits in the middle of the square. He was the man who liberated South America and was an icon of independence.
Join the locals who use the square as a meeting point and enjoy imagining what it would have been like when it used to be one of the busiest parts of the city; under Spanish rule, you would have seen bullfights, circus acts, and many stalls here.
2. Street Art Tour: Top Thing to do in Bogota
Street art in Bogota is something else, with streets filled with colorful murals depicting stories, myths, and political messages. This kind of art was highly illegal in the past, and the history between artists and the police was very turbulent. These days, CRISP (one of the most famous graffiti artists in Bogota) says that the lack of fear over being jailed allows artists to have more creative freedom, painting murals that have significant value for the community.
La Candelaria is one of the most famous districts for street art and the location for most of the street art tours in Bogota. Join a tour to learn more about political expression and the importance of street art in the city. After the tour, take advantage of the endless hipster cafes and art galleries nearby—it’s a fantastic place to hang out for a few hours.
These are some of the best streets to spot incredible art:
- Plazoleta Chorro de Quevedo
- Calle Del Embudo
- From Calle Del Embudo, follow to the end of Carrera 2
- Carrera 3
- Calle 12f
3. Cerro Monserrate
Bogota sits in the shadow of the majestic Monserrate, a beautiful mountain just outside the city that stands over 3000 meters tall. For those looking for a bit of adventure and exertion, you can hike to the top of the peak. However, be aware that this can take between 2-4 hours, so take a reusable water bottle with plenty of water. It’s safe as guards are posted throughout the hike for safety but keep in mind that you can only enter the trail in the morning.
If you don’t have that much time, take the exhilarating cable car or funicular instead! The cable car flies high and incredibly fast, sweeping over the forest and providing magical views below. The views get even better once you’re at the top, particularly at sunset. At the top, you can also discover the small church, the tranquil garden walk, or enjoy a coca tea at the English-style cafe.
4. Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens are a fantastic thing to do in Bogota. After spending time among the bright lights and noise of this buzzing metropolis, what better way to unwind than to visit this peaceful oasis at the heart of the city. Walk around the 19.5 hectares of land among 20,000 plants, beautiful rose gardens, and animals.
5. La Candelaria
La Candelaria is the most beautiful and historic district in Bogota, a place you can come to escape the modern buzz of the city and visit the colonial streets and houses.
The colorful, bohemian neighborhood is full of history and filled with artists and musicians practicing their crafts. Because of this, one of the best things to do in La Candelaria is simply to sit down at one of the cute cafes and people watch.
6. Santuario Nuestra Señora del Carmen
Nestled within the historic district of La Candelaria is the beautiful church of Santuario Nuestra Senora del Carmen. Unlike the typical look of most churches, this one is covered in red and white stripes, looking like a piece of candy among the city’s roofs.
The exterior is pretty, but the interior is where the church really comes to life; the red and white theme continues but with the addition of beautifully detailed tiles and ornately carved pews. Open daily from 07:30 AM – 11:30 AM.
7. Dinner at Madre
After spending time in the historic district of La Candelaria, head out for a delicious dinner at the pizza restaurant ‘Madre’. You’ll find a beautiful restaurant with a fun industrial-style interior hidden down a small alley. They do great pizzas, delicious cocktails and often have live music while you eat!
8. Lunch at Quinua y Amaranto
Another La Candelaria gem, Quinua y Amaranto, is a small intimate restaurant serving tasty vegan and vegetarian food. This is an excellent option for a reasonably priced veggie lunch in Bogota, with lovely wait staff and great vibes.
9. Sunday Usaquen Market
A lovely thing to do in Bogota if you happen to be in the city on a Sunday is the Usaquen Market. Beautiful stalls line the streets, selling souvenirs different from the standard ones you’d find at most markets.
Leave a little room in your suitcase for some of the high-quality handicrafts made by the finest artisans in the city, whether that’s bags, shoes, or jewelry. You’ll also be able to buy delicious (and cheap!) street food—yum! Opening times: 11 AM – 4 PM
Just 1 hour from Bogota is the fascinating Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira. Underneath the ground, discover the salt mine tunnels and a cathedral carved down to a depth of 200 meters. The massive space is lit with neon blue light to highlight the alcoves, stones, and pews. In fact, people still attend church services here; it’s a completely unique religious site!
11. Botero Museum
The Botero Museum is a free art museum in Bogota home to multiple modern art exhibitions. It’s named after Fernando Botero, the most famous Colombian artist (from Medellin) renowned for his colorful, funny, and large paintings. His artwork is totally unique, painting and sculpting humans with proportions far bigger than the average! There is even Botero’s version of the Mona Lisa. You will love it! You can see his work displayed all over the world, in major cities like Madrid or Singapore.
12. Bike Tour
Bogota is such a big sprawling city, so a bike tour works surprisingly well! The bike tours are very well organized, and a guide will help you navigate the busy streets, so you don’t need to worry about traffic. It’s the perfect way to see the city and learn more from knowledgeable locals who are passionate about their city. Make sure to ask for recommendations on top things to do in Bogota and places to eat!
13. Gold Museum
The Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) is a top thing to do in Bogota. Home to over 34,000 gold items, it’s no surprise that this museum has been named one of the greatest in the world. Each piece tells an incredible historical story, with many coming from the rituals and practices of indigenous communities.
Taking an audio tour of the Gold Museum is possible, but you don’t necessarily need to, as each piece of art has Spanish and English descriptions.
14. Visit a Local Coffee Plantation
Colombian coffee is widely known as some of the best in the world, so make the most of being in Bogota by visiting one of the many coffee plantations up in the surrounding hills. Not only will you learn all about the growth, production, and sale of coffee, you’ll get to try the coffee too!
By taking part in a coffee tour, you’ll also get out into the beautiful nature just a stone’s throw away from the city, learning a little more about the farming culture in Colombia.
15. Food Tour
Colombia is home to some delicious flavors, and Bogota, being the capital, has some of the best restaurants of them all! If you want to try lots of delicious local foods, learn more about the ingredients, and find some traditional restaurants, we highly recommend joining a food tour. There’s something for all tastebuds: ceviche, empanadas, filling arepas, or cheesy palitos!
Best Cafes and Restaurants in Bogota, Colombia
Bogota is full of incredible restaurants! Try some delicious local dishes at one of the typical Bogotan cafes, or head to a super cool restaurant like Andres Chia, which turns into a nightclub after dinner.
Our favorite restaurants in Bogota:
- De Una Travel (perfect spot for lunch)
- Varietale (delicious coffee and cakes)
- Quinua Y Amaranto (vegetarian local food)
- Madre (hidden gem in the center of Bogota)
- Enchiladas La Candelaria (mexican)
- Nativa Arte y Comida Natural (vegan food)
An absolute top thing to do while in Bogota is head to Puerta Falsa, where they sell traditional tamales and hot chocolate (in fact, Anthony Bourdain even visited once!).
Where to Stay in Bogota
The best place to stay in Bogota is the historic district of La Candelaria, a beautiful, atmospheric neighborhood of colorful streets and cute houses with balconies. There are few cars here and many pedestrianized streets making it feel less noisy and busy than other areas. Plus, it’s also the safest neighborhood in Bogota.
Although a little bit more expensive, Zona Rosa is also a great place to stay. It’s one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the city, filled with fancy restaurants, nightclubs, and high-end shops.
How to Visit Bogota
Bogota is the capital city of Colombia and, therefore, has excellent transport links. There is an international airport in Bogota, and most global flights arrive here or in Cartagena and domestic flights leave for other parts of the country.
Getting Around Bogota
Bogota is a massive city so you’ll need to take public transport to visit all the sights. The good news is that the bus system is super cheap, as well as the local taxis and Uber. Bicycles and buses have their own lane, making it faster to get around this way. If you’re planning on cycling, we recommend taking a bike tour to learn as much as possible and travel safely around the city.
How Much Does Bogota Cost?
Bogota is a really affordable city to travel in, and you can stay in beautiful accommodation for very reasonable prices. Although most sights have paid entry, it’s always cheap, especially the food!
Tip: We got Claro sim cards at Bogota Airport at the Techport shop located on the 2nd floor.
Safety in Bogota
Despite its reputation, Colombia, in general, is safe. Bogota is a big city, so it does have higher crime rates, but as long as you exercise caution, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself freely on your trip! For example, don’t walk alone in the evenings, don’t go down dark and quiet streets, and always store your valuables at your accommodation/put a padlock on your bag.
Make sure to also always use the official taxis as those without proper accreditation have been known to scam or steal from tourists.
Although it’s technically illegal, Uber is the safest taxi service in Bogota. Because of this, the driver might ask you to sit in the front, so it looks more like they’re driving a friend (particularly if the police stop you!). This is something to be aware of when you use Uber.
Please note: This article is based on the safest areas of Bogota, mainly La Candelaria. In this neighborhood, there are police with dogs on every street corner. We don’t recommend leaving the main, busy tourist areas.
Best Time to Visit Bogota
Bogota is 2600 meters closer to the sun, so even on cloudy days, you can get burnt! It’s pretty warm all year round, and the driest months are between December-March and July-August. It can be stormy outside of these months, but it’s still a nice time to visit (March-September is the primary rainy season), and best of all, the prices are lower!